Handling complaints

Complaint handling standards

Complaint handling is an important part of a safe and responsive health system.

All health service providers in Victoria must meet the minimum standards for complaint handling as laid out in Schedule 1 of the Health Complaints Act 2016 (Vic). In summary, a health service must:

  • Promptly acknowledge complaints and make appropriate attempts to resolve them
  • Provide information on how to make a complaint to health service consumers in an accessible and understandable form
  • Inform those who have made a complaint of the complaint's progress and its outcome
  • Keep personal information collected in the course of a complaint in a confidential manner
  • Keep a record of all complaints, including any action taken in managing them.

Handling complaints well

If someone makes a complaint to us about your service, we will ask them, where it is appropriate, to try and resolve it with you first.

Health service providers with effective complaint-management processes often resolve complaints quickly and easily. Resolving complaints directly also creates opportunities for you to restore confidence in your services, improve quality through feedback and to prevent minor issues from escalating into major problems.

Handling complaints well means engaging with your consumers and carers about their concerns and understanding the resolutions they are seeking.

Why people complain

Communication issues underpin most complaints we receive, and most complainants are looking for an explanation and an apology to resolve their complaint.People often make complaints in the hope of preventing the same thing happening to others. This is why acknowledging complaints promptly and letting complainants know what's been done to prevent future problems is so important.

Tips for good complaint handling

  1. Your complaint process should be easy and straightforward.
  2. Complaints should be acknowledged promptly, and the complainant should be told how their complaint will be handled.
  3. Complaints should be triaged appropriately.
  4. Communication should be clear, using minimal jargon and technical terms. Make sure the complainant understands the information you are sharing.
  5. Treat your complainants fairly, and with objectivity and respect.
  6. Make sure your response to the complaint is clear and informative, and that it addresses the specific issues raised in the complaint.
  7. If the complainant is not satisfied with the response, you should provide information about any available internal or external review options.
  8. If the complaint highlights any systemic issues, these should be considered and acted on.